State of the Environment report shows need for central & local government to do a better job

New Zealand’s first State of the Environment Report for 8 years highlights the failure of local and central government authorities to adequately protect the environment, says Forest & Bird.

“New Zealand already has some good environmental laws like the RMA and the Conservation Act, but we have a serious shortage of authorities who do a good job of implementing and enforcing those laws,” says Forest & Bird Campaigns Manager Kevin Hackwell.

“When Statistics NZ says that two thirds of the key environmental indicators went backwards in the decade up to 2012, it’s time for our central, regional, and local governments put some serious effort into ensuring that our environment is properly managed and protected.”

“Forest & Bird urges New Zealand’s local, regional, and central governments to properly monitor and enforce environmental standards, and not leave it to the community and NGOs to stand up for New Zealand’s natural heritage."

The State of the Environment Report shows that the things New Zealanders most care about – rivers, oceans, forests, and our unique animals and plants - are being seriously degraded by human activity.

Large increases in nutrient application and runoff from intensive farming, particularly dairy, has led to fifty per cent of freshwater sites having increased nutrient levels that could lead to damaging nuisance algal growth.

“80% of our native land birds are now threatened with extinction, as are 90% of our lizard species, and 40% of our larger plants. This is not so surprising when 94% of the country is affected by possums, rats and stoats and around 100,000 ha of indigenous vegetation and important habitat for our native wildlife was lost between 1996 and 2012" says Mr Hackwell.

“It is still not acceptable that 14 of our commercial fish stocks are being overfished and that fishing bycatch is a major contributor to 35% of our seabirds and 27% of our marine mammals being threatened with extinction.

This Environment Aotearoa 2015 report is the first of its kind to be produced independently by the Statistics Department and the Ministry for the Environment following the recent passage of new environment reporting legislation.

“We are pleased to see the level of rigor that has gone into this report and believe that it will be a good benchmark for future state of the environment reporting.”